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CarComplaints.com Notes: The 2004 Ford Explorer one of our worst vehicles on record. "Avoid like the plague" is putting it lightly.

The 2002-2005 Explorer has a very well-established record of expensive transmission failure at under 100k miles. The Explorer has an enclosed transmission which is typically replaced with a rebuilt transmission at a cost of almost $3,000.

Another common problem for the 2002-2005 Explorer is wheel bearing failure at around 90k miles, with a typical repair bill of $500 to $1000 depending on how many wheel bearings failed.

Adding insult to injury, the 2002-2005 Explorer also has a massive problem with the rear panel cracking. While it's a minor annoyance compared to transmission failure, ironically the crack usually goes right through the Ford logo.


fairly significant
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
74,055 miles
Total Complaints:
712 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. waiting for Ford to recall (284 reports)
  2. not sure (196 reports)
  3. replace panel (101 reports)
  4. possible class action lawsuit (53 reports)
  5. call Ford motor company 1-800-241-3673 (27 reports)
  6. do not buy Ford again (24 reports)
2004 Ford Explorer body / paint problems

body / paint problem

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2004 Ford Explorer Owner Comments (Page 1 of 36)

problem #712

Jan 012008

Explorer Eddie Bauer V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles


A second crack has occurred this past weekend 1/2/15. I'll post photos later.

- , Canyon Country, CA, USA

problem #711

Sep 012014

Explorer XLT V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 99,800 miles

The crack on the rear lift gate on my Explorer really looks bad. This is my third Explorer and if Ford does not fix this, there is not going to be a number 4.

- , Mission, Texas, USA

problem #710

Mar 012011

Explorer LS 4.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles

When my wife discovered the crack it was 1 inch long. I was washing the car 2 weeks later and noticed the crack went from the top just under the window to the bottom of the door. Went to get an estimate from the body shop and was quoted $450 to repair. I have not had it repaired yet.

- , Lake Havasu City, Arizona, USA

problem #709

Feb 102010

Explorer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles


There are two cracks in the rear panel that are an eyesore. Not happy with this vehicle. Would not recommend to others.

- , La Vernia, TX, USA

problem #708

Oct 012006


  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

My 2004 Ford Explorer is like every other one I see; it has an open crack on the back hatch that extends downward below the rear window hatch. You cant blame this on the owner or on poor quality workmanship. This is clearly the result of poor design, poor materials for manufacture, or a combination of both. The Ford obviously Corporation knows this defect exists and is widespread; not to know it would indicate an organization clueless of product aftermarket business such as parts and repair sales. Every report is almost exactly the same in reporting. its time for Ford to do the right thing - Issue a Vehicle Recall for rear door replacement at no cost to the owner.

- , Culloden, GA, USA

problem #707

Feb 062012

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,000 miles

click to see larger images

cracked panel below the rear window

First one crack came up on left side of Ford emblem and now another also came up on left side. Both go from top to bottom of small panel just below rear tailgate window. Ford has known about this for years and yet won't do anything about it. I know from seeing other Explorers on the road I have seen and from all the people online that have this same problem. I hear there is a possible Class Action Lawsuit...I would like to know how to become a member of this lawsuit? Randy

- , Queen City, Texas, USA

problem #706

Dec 262009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 60,000 miles


I like to keep any vehicle as long as possible. Taking care of it, maintenance, have necessary repairs done, etc. Usually my vehicles last for years and years. My Ford Explorer is now 10 years old with less than 80K miles. If I had wrecked my car in some way I would have had it repaired. I like my vehicle to look nice. From no abuse or neglect or accident of the owner, the body of my vehicle just cracks! Ridiculous!! Cracked body, what am I driving, an egg?????? So far I haven't had any problems related to the crack in the back hatch, but wouldn't it be expected that water seeping in through the cracks would damage the electronic door lock assembly? It seems the integrity of the Ford Company is nonexistent concerning this issue.

Ford Company had the government's help in bailing them out of financial failure. Now they are producing many vehicles that seem quite popular and the company's sales are up. I think more of their potential customers should be made aware of this silly problem that Explorer owners experience and the fact that Ford just doesn't stand behind their product, pure and simple.

Why don't we design a back panel sticker to cover the crack that reads, "Ford Motor Company doesn't cover the crack that appeared on this door because of poor design. What am I driving, an egg or a big tough vehicle? Buyer beware of Ford Motor Vehicles."

- , Willow Spring, North Carolina, USA

problem #705

Dec 152014

Explorer XLS 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 41,000 miles

What can you say the Vehicle is ten yrs old the hinges had to be replaced and the pistons as well. I guess the stress was too much and one cold night the panel cracked, just to the right of the emblem from the top to bottom of the panel. I wouldn't waste my time with Ford they will just say how sorry they are to hear of my problem and is their any other way that we can help you.

- , Bradenton, FL, USA

problem #704

Nov 012014

Explorer XLT 3.2L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 95,000 miles

Mine is not the only car this happened to and Ford should repair

- , Millburn, NJ, USA

problem #703

Nov 062013


  • Automatic transmission
  • 80,000 miles

So everyone and their mother with a Ford Explorer XLT 2004 (certain years) has experienced the crack below the rear tailgate window... and what has FORD done... NOTHING!!!!!!!!!!! NOT HAPPY

- , Scotch Plains, NJ, USA

problem #702

Jan 012013

Explorer XLS 6.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 70,000 miles


My mother in law had her back window shatter because of this problem. This is crap!!!!!!Ford stand up and take care of your customers/ My next car may be from someone else.!!!!

- , Mooresville, IN, USA

problem #701

Nov 122012

Explorer XLT 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,000 miles

The rear hatch cracked for no apparent reason. Went out to the vehicle in the morning and found that the hatch was cracked. I have seen many other Ford explorers with the same problem since I discovered mine cracked. I have asked several persons with a cracked hatch on their Ford Explorers how their hatches cracked and they told me that it just cracked on its own. It is quite awful that Ford wont do anything about since the vehicle is out of warranty, but is is so obvious that all the cracks are in the same place that it was a manufacturing defect.

I also had to have the hinges for the hatch replaced and was told by Ford that they are an item that needs replacing every 5-6 years. It is a shame that Ford won't stand behind their products when it is clearly a manufacturing defect.

- , Detroit, MI, USA

problem #700

May 052010


  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,000 miles

The crack started small and now is full crack down the back. I have seen other explorers just like mine with the same crack. you would think Ford would stand behind their vehicles.

- , Longview, IL, USA

problem #699

Oct 312009

Explorer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 53,000 miles

it was cracked when I purchased the vehicle. I see just about every vehicle with the crack on back panel.

- , Longwood, FL, USA

problem #698

Dec 012006

Explorer XLT 3.0 V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,000 miles

Nothing to say. All explorers from this year have the same problem.

- , Woodbridge, VA, USA

problem #697

Jun 062008

Explorer XLT

  • 50,000 miles

I have seen many, many, many cracked rear decks on Explorers just like mine !!!

Right next to the Ford emblem.

- , Denison, TX, USA

problem #696

Nov 062012

Explorer Eddie Bauer 4.0L V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

Yet another problem with my 2004 Explorer. This is the last straw. Ford products are no longer an option for my family. After replacing many major parts on this vehicle, I could have bought a Porsche and spent less money than what I've spent on repairs. Do yourself a favor. If you think you may want to buy a Ford Explorer, Don't Do It. You will absolutely regret it.

- , Assonet, MA, USA

problem #695

Dec 012010


  • 140,000 miles

I paid a body shop to repair the crack and it happened again a year later.

- , Hammonton, NJ, USA

problem #694

Nov 012005

Explorer XLT

  • Automatic transmission
  • 15,000 miles

I have had a crack in the rear panel for almost a decade. I just deal with it but it's ugly and clearly bad workmanship. if there is a class action lawsuit I will gladly join it. Ford needs to know that this is unacceptable.

- , Tallahassee, Florida, USA

problem #693

Feb 072006


  • Automatic transmission
  • 30,000 miles

This car was fairly expensive and we were told the rear panel cracked due to opening and closing the hatch part of the rear door. My Ford dealer would not cover the entire cost but covered it all but $110 and adjusted the hinges on the rear door and I was told it would not happen again. Every time you open and closed the rear door it would slam you couldn't keep it adjusted. Within a year it was cracked again in the same exact place. Now I was really mad!! You know the worst part of it is that Ford refuses to fix the problem, and there is a problem and the reason I know there is a PROBLEM is because every Ford Explorer you see driving down the road has a cracked panel on the back. I did not buy a FORD vehicle my last purchase I bought a Nissan and have been very pleased it is 5 years old now and is paid for without even "1" problem. Just regular maintenance!! My Ford Explorer had a transmission problem months after I had it which was covered but still a hassle, and the rear panel cracked twice and is cracked now, never got it fixed the second time because it would be a waste of money, until they change the panel or the hinges. Then I had wheel-bearing problem on both back wheels (left and right) the roaring was so bad you couldn't stand to ride in the back seat much less the 3rd row seat. This was a very bad purchase for me. The vehicle sits in my yard now because I don't want to sell it to someone else my car problems. Would love for FORD to fix it so it could be sold.

- , Rockmart, Georgia, USA

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